Sometime in between my macaroni-and-cheese-on-a-hot-plate dorm stage and my I'm-a-burgeoning-real-cook-but-don't-know-what-I'm doing early 20s, I discovered tabbouleh. This was what I like to call my "Casbah period" where I bought expensive, exotic foods pre-cooked in boxes because I had no idea how to make them on my own. Casbah's tabbouleh-in-a-box was particularly gratifying. Extra-lemony, with parsley and nutty bulgur that tasted potent and fresh—even though it wasn't—all you added were two chopped tomatoes, perhaps a cucumber, and some olive oil. The entire thing took about 10 minutes. On weekdays after work or class, I ate mounds and mounds of the stuff.
Since finding out I have celiac, tabbouleh has become a food I really miss. It's just the perfect little summer salad: It's easy to make. It's great on an appetizer table. It's good as a side with simple chicken and fish recipes, and it's one of those dishes you can eat tons of and not feel a.) guilty or b.)sick.
I was missing it especially a few weeks ago when a friend admitted to having served Casbah at a dinner party ("It's actually awesome," he said, a bit embarrassed and more than a little surprised.)
After all this, I decided I needed to figure out a celiac-friendly substitution. Lo and behold:
GLUTEN-FREE QUINOA TABBOULEH
Sure, it's lacking the the flaky-crumbly heartiness of wheat, but the quinoa (even more so when cooked in broth) adds a fluffy lightness that works well with all the hefty parsley and cucumber and tomato. This recipe makes a huge amount—we ate it for dinner and then had two days of leftovers—and would be good for a party.
**absolutely do not skip the mint. I did on my first try and it really wasn't the same.
One cup quinoa, rinsed (I used white, but this could also be incredible with red)
2 cups vegetable broth
2-3 cups of parsley, finely chopped
3/4 cup of mint, finely chopped
2 ripe tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 small cucumber, seeded, chopped (I used one from my fire escape garden!)
3 scallions, chopped
1/2 cup of olive oil
Juice of 3 lemons
Salt and pepper to taste
Cook the quinoa in the vegetable broth. While the quinoa is cooking, prepare the rest of the ingredients and place in a large bowl. Add the quinoa. Mix everything throughly and refrigerate for one hour. Serve with grilled fish or chicken breast or with hummus on gluten-free toast. It's also great as a snack, totally on its own.